Brussels, the vibrant capital of Belgium, is a city that blends rich history, stunning architecture, and a lively atmosphere. One of the best ways to explore its heart and soak in its unique charm is by taking a leisurely walking tour through the center. In this article, we’ll guide you through a delightful stroll, highlighting the streets to wander and the captivating sights to discover along the way.
Starting Point: Grand Place (Grote Markt)
Begin your journey at the iconic Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the central square of Brussels. Marvel at the opulent guildhalls, most notably the stunning Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville) and the King’s House (Maison du Roi). The square is a sight to behold, with its ornate facades and vibrant flower market if you visit during the warmer months.
1. Rue de l’Étuve
From Grand Place, take Rue de l’Étuve towards the world-famous Manneken Pis statue, a charming Brussels landmark. This statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain has captured the hearts of visitors for centuries.
2. Place du Grand Sablon
Now it is time to do a little bit of walking as you head in the direction of Place du Grand Sablon, a picturesque square surrounded by quaint cafes and antique shops. Admire the elegant Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon (Église Notre-Dame du Sablon) with its stunning Gothic architecture.
You need to walk about 600 meters, but you can enjoy the architecture of Brussels while doing so. Keep walking on Rue de l’Etuve until you Rue des Bogards. Walk towards the left and just keep walking straight ahead until you reach a big roundabout. On the other side of the roundabout you have Place du Grand Sablon.
3. Mont des Arts
Heading uphill from Grand Sablon (on Rue Lebeau), you’ll reach the Mont des Arts, or “Hill of the Arts. This beautifully landscaped area offers breathtaking panoramic views of Brussels and is home to the Royal Library and several museums. Stroll through the tranquil gardens and enjoy the art installations along the way.
4. Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles)
Descend from Mont des Arts along the avenue Cantersteen. As you reach Galerie Ravenstein, enter the building and you will walk inside a beautiful building with stores and cafes on the inside. This walk will take a while, but as you finish the walk on the other side, you will almost be by the entrance of the fantastic Brussels Park. This serene green space provides a peaceful contrast to the bustling city streets. You can relax by the fountains, admire the statues, or simply enjoy the natural beauty.
5. Place des Palais
At the southern side of the park, you find the magnificent Place des Palais where you find the Royal Palace, the residence of the Royal Family. It is an impressive neoclassical building that is particularly stunning in the evening when it’s illuminated.
6. Rue de la Loi and European District
Walk down Rue Ducale, and walk onto Rue de Luxembourg after some hundred meters. As you keep on walking, you will soon find yourself in the heart of Brussels’ European District. This area houses important EU institutions, including the European Commission and the European Parliament. Marvel at the modern and architecturally impressive EU buildings.
7. Parc Leopold and Cinquantenaire Park
If you have more time, walk along the avenue Rue Belliard. After a while, you can see the awesome Parc Leopold on your right side. If you have a lot of energy in your legs, take a stop there, have a short picnic, look at the Medieval Tower, and enjoy the sun. If not, keep walking straight ahead until you see Cinquantenaire Park in front of you on the left side. It is a gigantic park with vast green spaces, stunning arches, and museums to explore, making for a perfect relaxation stop.
Ending Point: Schuman Metro Station
There is a metro station on both sides of Cinquantenaire Park, so depending on where you end your tour, travel by metro from the Schuman Metro Station or from Merode station back to the center of Brussels.
This delightful walking tour through the center of Brussels encapsulates the city’s rich history, diverse culture, and captivating beauty. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking to soak up the ambiance of this charming European capital, this journey will leave you with unforgettable memories of Brussels. So put on your most comfortable walking shoes and set off to explore the heart of this fascinating city.